Saturday, July 28, 2007

Phenomenon (Do Do Doo Doot)!

Today's Sunday Scribblings prompt is phenomenon, which (of course) brought to mind the classic Muppets sketch with Sandra Bullock.

For geekier among you, I also found this X-Files take off. It made me laugh. I freely admit my (no-so) inner geek.

(I believe I've previously mentioned my fondness for Muppets...and X-Files?)

So, it's a perfect prompt for me. Phenomenon. Do Do Doo Doot!

And, for those wondering about our recent move... Well, JP's done a nice recap of the day itself. Since then, we've been trying to get the rest of our stuff out of the old place while working our stuff into the new place.

Because of JP's back, I'm left doing most of the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively. I'm also learning how to be a handy person. Today was filled with chores around the house, things like reorganizing the boxes in the garage (so someone could walk through), putting up a new bathroom fixture for JP, replacing the shower head, and so on. Friday, I rescued one of the cats (Pouncer) from under the back deck...only to (later) learn that she knew a way out of there in the first place. Oh, yes, I've also been trying to learn how to mix the appropriate chemicals for our hot tub.

It's a lot of hard work, this moving business. But, I love our new home. We're making it ours and, while it's a lot of work and aching muscles, it's also fun (in an odd way).

Of course, I look forward to the time when "fun" in our new home doesn't involve a lot of work on my part.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Please Stand By

Tomorrow is the big move! Unfortunately, we won't have an Internet connection until the next day (at least). So, we are essentially off-line for the next day or two.

The picture, by the way, is known as a test pattern. In the days before cable and 24-hour music, news, and movies, broadcast TV stations used to have to sign off for a few hours each night. Many would use test patterns at the very end (and beginning) of their broadcast days.

Of course, the geekier among you may also recall that the phrase "please stand by" was used at the end of the introductory narration of a television program called The Outer Limits (intro here). Okay, two television programs.

Because the first version ran when I was a very small child (1963-1965), I watched it in later syndication, along with The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and similar shows. These shows are one reason why I love short stories.

Because of the need to be brief, short stories often set aside details that longer forms take for granted. Consider, for example, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. In the filmed version, we never learn the name of man who stars in the episode, nor are we told how he was captured or any other extraneous details. He's simply a man about to be executed, presumably for interfering with the railway. He receives, though, a reprieve when the hanging rope breaks.

I first watched this film in grade school, some 30-odd years ago. At the time, it captivated me. It still captivates me today. You can watch it here, though I don't know how long the link will last. If you've not seen it, it's well worth the half-hour investment.

I think, perhaps, the reasons why it spoke to me as a child are the same as the reasons it speaks to me as an adult. Here is a man who loves his family so much that they are the last images he sees in this life. Melodramatic, perhaps, but melodrama I can identify with.

My life has been filled with much drama...and (as a result) I can appreciate melodrama as an entertainment device and a teaching device.

I'm not sure I can explain the life lesson of Owl Creek. I hope you'll intuit it without my commentary.

JP and I will be back soon. We need to move few things to new digs first. Please be patient while we do so.

Photo credit: RCA Manufacturing Co, Inc. (by way of Broadcasting 101)

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Monday, July 16, 2007

We Have Started Moving!

We started moving this past weekend. Saturday, we cleared out the storage unit, which generally consisted of a lot of my junk stuff, along with some furniture. With a little help from our friends, we got everything moved into the digs. (Most of it went into the garage for later unpacking and, I'm sure, reducing.)

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, we got up and (with JP's help) over to the new house to finish some chores before the major move day. She painted primer on one of DD's walls while I took care of a number of little chores, like installing the washer and dryer. (Memo to self: pick up plumbing tape for the hose connections before we do laundry.) We also reorganized the garage, making room for the boxes currently waiting patiently in the old garage.

We discovered that one couch meant for the media room will not, in any way, shape, or form, be able to be moved into the media room. It's too long for the stairs and the 30" doorway is too narrow. I also had to do some repairs on a media armoire that I've owned for years. It's a lovely piece, but I think I'm finally ready to let it go. We're planning to put both pieces on craigslist and, with luck, we'll get enough to justify a nifty, new widescreen TV for the media room.

Our new neighborhood seems nice. We've met some of the neighbors and the girls have already made friends with one of the neighborhood children. I'm happy to see that, for Kara hasn't had much of a chance to make friends when she's with us. She's made a couple this summer and I'm happy to see that.

Tonight, I stopped by the house and finished painting DD's wall. Kara was hoping to play with her new friend, but was disappointed.

After the weekend of hard work, my muscles ache. I can't wait until we get the hot tub checked out and useable. I could use a good long soak right now.

We have one more big moving day ahead of us...Friday. Fortunately, we've hired a couple of movers to help load and unload the U-Haul. I know the next weekend is going to be as busy as the last, but at least we'll be in our new home, then.

It's a lot of work, this moving business, but it's also worthwhile. Both JP and I are exhausted, but we're both looking forward to really creating a home together, a place truly our own. It's not that we don't like the place we live in; it's just that, well, it's not ours. There's a difference between a place you rent and one you (and the bank) own.

Besides the hot tub, there are a couple of features of our new home that I really love. It has an office space that JP can use as a place to write and it also has a family room large enough for my bookshelves, books, computers, and video game system. It'll take some time, but I really think our new place will be a terrific nest for us.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have an appointment with 600 mg of Ibuprofen. Perhaps even 1200 mg.

Photo credit: Russ Kwan, c/o The Vancouver Gallery of Photography

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Tickling My Sense of Fancy

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you may have a sense of what I consider absurd.

This picture reveals a bit of what I consider funny.

Photo credit: Unknown...not me. Sadly.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Requiem for an Epithet

Earlier this week, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a mock funeral for the "N-word" during the association's 98th annual convention. Detroit (Michigan) mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was quoted as saying, "Today, we're not just burying the n-word, we are taking it out of our spirit, we are taking it out of our minds. To bury the n-word, we gotta bury the pimps and the ho's and the hustlers. Let's bury all the nonsense that comes with this."

I strongly believe in the inalienable equality of all individuals and I celebrate the spirit of this gesture. By all means, let's bury the ideas and the symbols that hurt people or that lead some to feel less valued or worthy than others.

Racism or discrimination, in any form, is wrong. Period.

Anything that separates one type of person from another type is wrong and should be changed. We are individuals, not chattel or chaff that can be sorted from wheat.

Kilpatrick's remarks touch on such a separation, one I've wondered about for years. Folks like Michael Richards, Don Imus, and Mel Gibson are (quite properly) chastized for using certain words as epithets to denigrate others. Yet, comedians like Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Chris Rock, and others liberally sprinkle the n-word throughout their work and those choices are considered acceptable. It seems as if it's okay for an African American to use the n-word in any way that seems appropriate to the artist, but it's not okay for anyone else to try to use...or to try to empathize with the pain that comes from the use of...the term. At least, that's the way it seems from my point of view. Your mileage may vary.

Isn't it unfair for an African American to expect to use that particular word when others aren't allowed to use it? Isn't it possible that continued use of the term reinforces the very streotypes that such use claims to criticize?

This seems especially relevant when one realizes that the term is also used as a greeting between non-African Americans. (See definition 2 in the link.)

This secondary use appears, in part, to come from the lyrics of musicians and routines of comedians that use the word cavalierly. Because some use it so casually, the thinking goes, it's okay for everyone to use it casually.

I'm not saying there aren't artistic or scholarly uses for the word. I would, for example, never argue that it should be excised from historical appearances, such as the writings of Mark Twain, early Looney Toon cartoons, or even certain mystery novels. At this point in our history, we have come to understand the cruelty of this term and we have to accept the evolution of that understanding. If we do not understand how we came to realize the fitness of this idea, we risk losing the understanding of why this idea has become true for us, an understanding that has come dearly for some.

Racism, discrimination, and oppression are, in any form, wrong.

Even when it comes from those most hurt by the term.

We've let go of many cultural references that we now understand to be out of place or no longer appropriate, such as Uncle Tom, Sambo (background), Jim Crow, Stepin Fetchit, and other outdated stereotypes, it's time to let this particular word go.

Photo Credit: Kristin Smith

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On Broken (Political) Promises

Some years ago, our current President promised to be a uniter, not a divider. He promised to restore dignity to the White House. He promised to hold his staffers accountable for illegal actions.

Promises are like eggs...easily broken. If I may be allowed to offend the metaphor, I believe President Bush has not only broken his promises, he's pitched the entire carton to the curb and ground it underfoot, gleefully cackling at his "cleverness."

My darling JP has done a terrific job of collecting responses to the President's commutation of I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby's prison sentence. Like her, I am completely disgusted by the President's action. While Junior (my pet name for him) may feel Libby's sentence excessive, I wonder about his feelings regarding Valerie Plame's career prospects, which have been seriously compromised because someone in the current administration decided to break the law and play politics with her identity...all because her husband wouldn't sign off on the *wink wink* *nudge nudge* Saddam "bombs-for-oil" blame game.

In trying to research a post that didn't completely rip-off my wife's, I came across this video clip by Keith Olbermann, which accurately captures my disgust and sentiment toward the (second) Bush Presidency at the moment. It's blunt and it's clear that Olbermann is passionate about his feelings. (If you don't want to watch the ten minute video, you can find the transcript here.)

The only thing I would add to Olberman's calls is a reminder that trust is like an egg....easily broken and nearly impossible to rebuild.

Photo credit: Richard Sweet

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